Obviously, this list could be much longer. "Purple Haze" didn't even make the list. Neither did "Room Full Of Mirrors," "Manic Depression," "Third Stone From The Sun," "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and so many others. Give me another day and the list is completely different. But I woke up this morning and found these 10 tracks in the front of my mind. And as Dylan, Hendrix's favorite songwriter, said, Don't Look Back.
10) "Foxey Lady": I've always heard this song as an inverse on "Purple Haze." It jams with the same cool swagger and features a great guitar solo. For the sake of your sanity and brevity, we'll assume that ALL these Hendrix tunes feature great guitar. I mean, isn't that the point?
9) "Ezy Ryder": The most annoying thing about the career of Jimi Hendrix is how brief it actually was. While no one can predict what a career would've been, it stands to reason that Hendrix had some serious exploring to do. This track was originally featured on The Cry Of Love, the first posthumous collection of material, and featured some of Hendrix's strongest work to date--if we can argue that any Hendrix work is actually better than another. It's like is there any such thing as bad candy?
8) "Castles Made Of Sand": While Jimi was known for crazy, possessed electric rock, he was also an amazing ballad writer. It's so incredibly difficult to choose. Just typing out "Castles Made Of Sand" makes me think of "The Wind Cries Mary." As I've said before, the man was a human Pringle. You can't have just one.
7) "Machine Gun" (Live At The Isle Of Wight): "Machine Gun" is one serious trip into funk. The political turmoil of the era made flesh or at least sound. The version from the tumultuous Isle of Wight gig where the band's a little rusty and the crowd is out of control is made all the more remarkable since Hendrix's amps are receiving police radio transmissions. Hendrix battles all the elements here. Pure insanity.
6) "Little Wing": There's simply no way for me to write about Hendrix without including a handful of ballads. Aside from the lyrical tenderness and weirdness, there's a great amount of guitar voicing going on here that's frustrated aspiring guitarists everywhere. Not me, of course. I just step on a fuzzbox and ignore the notes.
5) "1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)": This song positively floats. It's so in its own space that no one could predict its patterns on first listen. Most tunes work in a verse-chorus-verse-chorus and maybe a bridge in there, and this song might, too, but it's difficult to hear how. It's like Hendrix listened to music as color and set about painting, in this case, an underwater landscape for his own production of South Pacific.
4) "Crosstown Trafic": This song is pure fun. The rhythms are so tight and Hendrix sounds like he's having great fun, which is part of the reason people make music. You can't have a broken heart all of the time. Well, some people can. Just ask Robert Smith.
3) "Drifting": Again with the ballads. Yet another one that appeared on The Cry Of Love, meaning it wasn't released in Hendrix's lifetime. The Cry Of Love features the tunes nearest to completion at the time of Hendrix's unexpected death, so we can assume that this is pretty close to how Hendrix imagined it to be. Another song that floats. The dude wasn't in space. He was space.
2) "Freedom": A great flying riff that appeared on The Cry Of Love, "Freedom" is one of those multi-layered guitar tunes that has you listening in several different directions at once. I've watched guitar players master one guitar line only to become completely unraveled while figuring out the next one underneath. This is why some of us stuck with folk music where three chords and a crappy voice could constitute a potential career.
1) "Fire": For the rhythm. For the riff. For the way Jimi raps, "Aw Move over Rover and Let Jimi take over," which has been goofed on by guitar players who couldn't tune Hendrix's guitars. I mean, Move over Rover and let Alan take over is pure genius.